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Thursday 28 December 2017

Experience in Lion & Dragon

I'm just blown away by the success of Lion & Dragon.  Entering into it's THIRD week it's still in the top bestseller list on RPGnow, the top list of indie products, and had already hit Copper bestseller status a couple of days ago!

So I thought I'd talk a bit on this blog, over the next few entries, about some of the areas that most differ from the standard D&D/OSR rules.  I've already mentioned many times that the magic system is totally different, based on the real magical ideas of the medieval grimoire tradition.

I've also talked about how the classes are set up different in terms of how they advance, introducing randomness and/or choice to the way an OSR character levels up, without making the system complicated.

Another difference I felt I should mention here is the Experience system.

The standard D&D experience is that you get xp for killing monsters (usually based on HD), and for getting gold (this one varies, but where it exists it's usually a 1-1 ratio). There's other details but that's the basics.

This is a great experience system for a fantasy game.

It's not so great for a Medieval-Authentic Fantasy game.  In a medieval-authentic game, for starters, there shouldn't be an awful lot of money to go around. Characters might spend a lot of their time dead broke in terms of money, or being paid in terms of goods and services.

Second, while you definitely CAN have a campaign that's about a band of adventurers digging into barrow mounds and catacombs and tombs and killing the monstrosities therein, or any other type of high combat campaign (like where the characters are actively fighting in war, etc), there's also plenty of campaign setups which are not about that.

So I decided to go with an XP system I used for a long time. Characters get 1xp for showing up, another 1xp if they are chosen by the other players as having been the best gamer of the night, and everyone might get 1 more xp if they complete some kind of major campaign goal or quest.

To go from Level 0 to level 1 takes one session. After that, you need a certain amount of xp to level up.

That's it.

So this means that PCs are not bound to do anything in the game. Players have to just show up at the session to get their experience. In my experience, this LIBERATES the game. In that now a player doesn't need to think in 'meta' terms at all. They don't have to worry about "I need to find 1000 more gp to level up", they just need to play their character however they imagine that characters should go in order to level up.

That's way better. You don't end up with lawful Clerics looking like money-grubbing assholes. You don't end up with cautious characters taking huge risks not because of something to do with the character but because the player needs the xp. You can also end up having sessions where there's no treasure and little combat, just other stuff going on (IF your party likes that sort of stuff), and players won't feel torn between enjoying a really good rp-heavy session (of, say, political intrigue, or a court case - Did I mention L&D has a set of rules for running medieval crime and punishment?) and knowing that session comes at the 'cost' of not getting any xp.

Now, I'm not saying you must use this system. I believe in the predominance of the Game Master. If you want to use the standard XP system, it's easy enough to do. Just pick one of the OSR games and use that xp list.  That's it.

If you want to do something different, you can do that too.

But in Medieval-Authentic RP, it can still be a good idea to have a way to give leeway to players to portray their characters MEDIEVAL-AUTHENTICALLY without punishing them for it with reduced XP. Whatever system you use.

Finally, I'll note that you might not specifically like the XP progression I put in the book. That's fine. I actually pretty much just went random with it, and it's pretty much flat. You need 5xp for a bunch of levels and then you need 10xp from then on.

If you'd rather make it faster, or slower, or with an increasing difficulty as you go on, then by all means do!  In my own campaign, I don't use that table. I make the xp needed to level up equal to the number of the level you're trying to reach (so, for example, 8 xp to get to level 8). Which is also a perfectly fine way of doing it.

On the other hand, if you're playing a short campaign, you might want to speed experience up. That's fine too.

Anyways, check out Lion & Dragon, and keep reading here for more info on other details of the game!


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia


  1. A few days ago, you mentioned some kind of magical (magickal ?) backfire Crowley experienced after failing to perform an invocation.
    So I wonder, is it possible to fail a magical operation in L&D and are there consequences when that happens ?

    1. Oh yes! In the Magic System in Lion & Dragon, magisters usually have to make a check to succeed in a ritual operation. If they fail, usually it just means they fail, but if they fail by enough, or botch it, there can be catastrophic results. Just what those are vary by what ritual is being attempted.

  2. I'd like to read your take on the Crowley backfire as well. I heard it was something having to do with failing to cross the abyss and ending up identifying wrongly with his fake guardian angel/ultimate self (i.e., Choronzon).

    Hey, there's some gaming potential there! A failed magical operation changing your personality into a warped version of yourself. A hole you must climb out of.

    1. The RPG Pundit Presents: Magickal Backfires ?

    2. No. Crowley succeeded in crossing the Abyss. He defeated Chroronzon.

      You're confusing two different steps in the magical path. The Holy Guardian Angel is revealed in the earlier step, traditionally called "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel", which was usually performed by the Abra-Melin ritual.

      Crowley failed on his first try to perform the Abra-Melin ritual. This took him several years to really recover from, during which time he was sort of lost; his whole magical practice collapsed, for a while he wasn't doing anything magical at all, until the reception of the Book of the Law happened in 1904.